RENTON — There will be no extended DK drama, disrupting the trail of a season already strewn with enough problematic issues for the Seahawks.
On a day when safety-related health issues Jamal Adams clouded the mood, cross the biggest issue off the list: receiver DK Metcalf is in the fold, just two days out of training camp. The Seahawks thus have their franchise player, the new face of the organization, the symbolic embodiment of coach Pete Carroll’s unwavering insistence in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade that they were not rebuilding.
Despite Carroll’s repeated assessments throughout the offseason that a deal with Metcalf was inevitable, one could still have envisioned a doomsday scenario in which the sides reached an impasse. Particularly in light of the extravagant contracts suddenly awarded to elite receivers, many of them after their original team decided it was too rich for their blood and initiated a trade. See Hill, Tyreek (among others).
But according to multiple reports, Metcalf on Thursday agreed to a three-year extension with Seattle worth $72 million — with $58.2 million guaranteed, including a $30 million signing bonus that is the largest ever given to a receiver.
Thus ends Metcalf’s “hold-in,” the new-age term given to this underworld between full camp attendance and a full-fledged, old-fashioned hold-up. Instead, for the first two days Metcalf was in limbo – visible in uniform during training but not participating in drills, a tease that was a poignant reminder of two things – what a physical specimen Metcalf is and how much they would miss him if he left.
Now everyone should be happy. Metcalf, 24, is getting his money’s worth and preparing to become a free agent at 28, when he should still be in his prime and thriving. The Seahawks get the player most essential to their stated goal of competing in the rugged NFC West, which some would still characterize as a pipe dream in light of their volatile quarterback situation. And they get it without having to set salary records; Metcalf’s $24 million annual average ties him sixth in salary among NFL receivers.
Finally, in a team that has taken a significant hit to star power with the regular departures of their Super Bowl teams’ stalwarts – symbolized by Thursday’s press conference to announce KJ Wright’s retirement, just hours before the Metcalf announcement – fans have a charismatic and immensely talented player to rally around.
Opposite Lumen Field, Julio Rodriguez showed the impact a player can have on an organization through skill and spirit. Metcalf is hardly the unknown quantity that Julio was entering in 2022. He has already shown in his three seasons with Seattle that he can have the greatest toolkit of any receiver in the game, and he translated it in three seasons of vast production, especially in his second campaign (83 catches, 1,303 yards, 10 touchdowns).
Those numbers fell to 75 catches and 967 yards last season, although Metcalf’s touchdown total rose to 12 (and it should be noted that he suffered from a foot injury that required off-season surgery) . The Seahawks will be looking for Metcalf to be the home run threat on their offense at a time when huge questions remain about who will get the ball to him – and how well they will be able to do so.
The Wilson-Metcalf connection was undeniably vibrant at times – though at other times frustrating in the perception that Metcalf wasn’t being utilized to his full potential. There may not be another NFL wide receiver who possesses Metcalf’s combination of size, speed and strength. As a result, there were times when you wanted Wilson to just throw it at Metcalf and let his instincts do the rest.
Can the Seahawks find a way to take Metcalf to the next level with Drew Lock or Geno Smith at center? That will be the challenge for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. The presence of Tyler Lockett as a complementary threat will as always be to Metcalf’s advantage (and vice versa).
Now we’ll see what kind of rapport Metcalf can establish with whoever wins the QB job, and what new heights he can rise to. Those are the kinds of questions the Seahawks are happy to seek the answers to.
It’s far preferable to the alternative question that threatened to dominate the start of camp: if and when Metcalf will show up. Now we know – and now the Seahawks can see how far Metcalf will take them.